Calgary's public school board budgets $40M shortfall — assuming province won't boost funding
CBE says average class sizes will increase by 1 student
The Calgary Board of Education passed a budget for the coming school year on Tuesday that will see average class sizes increase by one student as it grapples with a predicted $40-million funding shortfall from the province.
Board administrators told trustees they must brace for a zero funding increase this year from the province, forcing the CBE not to budget for additional teachers to meet rising enrolment, resulting in the slightly bigger class sizes.
It's estimated the additional teachers would cost $22 million.
"The remainder of the budget pressure of $18 million will be addressed through a range of other strategies," the board said in a release.
Trustees unanimously passed the spending plan, which several of them commended as prudent.
"I do believe that the administration has done a very good job with the assumptions they have made," said Trustee Trina Hurdman.
"All of that uncertainty does take a toll on our system."
The CBE's chief financial officer, Brad Grundy, told trustees he was forced to build the budget on the assumption that the board will receive the same amount of money in 2019-20 as in 2018-19.
"We are assuming flat funding with increased enrolment," he said.
Grundy said he's not aware of another instance when the board has found itself budgeting for a coming school year without yet having heard from the province how much money it will have.
"Accordingly, we continue with our prudent budget approach," he said.
The CBE said it anticipates enrolment this fall will increase by 1,800 students, or approximately 1.5 per cent, from 2018-19 levels.
Grundy said that increased enrolment is equivalent to about three elementary schools.
"To accommodate these additional students and address inflationary pressures, the CBE would need an additional $40 million to provide services and supports at levels consistent with the 2018-19 school year," the board said in a release.
With flat funding, the board predicts the average class size across all schools will increase by one student, Grundy said.
The budget also includes $3 million in cuts to service units, and a deficit of $5 million that will decrease through the year as operational savings are realized.